Tuesday, 31 March 2015


My Thoughts on the second in this fun cosy crime series .......


Published:  10 March 2015

With a storm brewing in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, the Killer WASPs head south to Palm Beach, Florida. And what could be better than fabulous friends, Lilly Pulitzer beachwear, frozen cocktails, and high-society drama?
Kristin Clark and her basset hound, Waffles, are ready to escape the doldrums of winter to bask in the warm Florida sun and dine at her friends' new restaurant, Vicino. But when a rival restaurant undergoes an HGTV makeover and attempts to steal Vicino's spotlight and its patrons, the town is abuzz with gossip, and Kristin and her friends—Bootsie, a nosy reporter; Holly, a chicken nugget heiress; and Sophie, the soon-to-be ex-wife of a mobster—have parties to attend.
Everything is going swimmingly in the glitz and glamour of Palm Beach until a bad batch of clams threatens to shut down Vicino and their vacation for good. When it becomes clear that the clams may be more than an innocent mishap, the ladies must unravel the mystery before there are deadly consequences.

This is the second in the Killer WASPS crime series, the first one I reviewed here but you don't need to have read that to enjoy this one.
I really enjoyed being in the company of Kristin and her quirky friends again, and this time she's very luckily been whisked away to stay in heiress Holly's rented villa in South Florida.  Once again, there is a mystery or two to be solved while she's there. 
Someone tries to run down Holly and Jessica, the manager of the new and trendy Vicino's restaurant, where it appears that someone also wants the restaurant out of business by trying to poison one of the areas's most influential diners and sabotage the air-conditioning.
Luckily, Jessica's friends Kirsty and Bootsie, in between eating, drinking and shopping decide to do a little sleuthing.
There were shady dealings, double dealings, lots of Gucci, Hermes, Valentino being worn, together with lies and deceit all neatly wrapped up in this mystery which I loved!
About the Author
Amy Korman is a former senior editor and staff writer for Philadelphia Magazine, and author of Frommer's Philadelphia and the Amish Country. She has written for Town & CountryHouse BeautifulMen's Health, and Cosmopolitan. She lives in Pennsylvania with her family and their basset hound, Murphy.
Check out her website

Saturday, 21 March 2015


My Thoughts on this tale of conspiracy, coffee and Calumny Spinks .......

Published:  April 2014
Source:  NetGalley

In 1688, torn by rebellions, England lives under the threat of a Dutch invasion. Redheaded Calumny Spinks is the lowliest man in an Essex backwater: half-French and still unapprenticed at seventeen, yet he dreams of wealth and title.

When his father’s violent past resurfaces, Cal’s desperation leads him to become a coffee racketeer. He has just three months to pay off a blackmailer and save his father’s life - but his ambition and talent for mimicry pull him into a conspiracy against the King himself.

Cal’s journey takes him from the tough life of Huguenot silk weavers to the vicious intrigues at Court.

Calumny Spinks, a 'long-limbed red-haired Frenchy gawk' is the narrator of this novel and we follow his journey, after a tragic incident, from a small town in Essex to the big city of London where he becomes involved in conspiracies, coffeehouses and silk weavers.

He has a gift for mimicry, is bright and quick-witted and the young ladies seem to love him! In trying to repay his father's debt he uses his wits and his smooth tongue but this all leads him into dangerous situations and dangerous men.

The sights and sounds of 17th century London are brought to life with vivid descriptions of the workshops, hawkers, tradesmen, chandlers at their craft and silk weaving. This is an England where people meted out their own kind of justice, without fear of retribution, where a man could kill another man with his sword and be thought a hero but to kill another man with a pistol he would be thought a murderer. "If thou fight with pistols and win, law will call thee murderer. But to kill a man in a swordfight is no crime in English law".

There is so much packed into this clever novel, with twists and turns, romance, double dealings, murders, fears of an impending war and friendships, but it also has a soft side, especially the relationship between Calumny and his father which changed throughout the story.

The author has obviously done his research into silk weaving, boats on the Thames and 17th century pistols. My only criticism would be that some of these descriptions were so long that I found my mind wandering reading them.

Overall, a really enjoyable fast-paced novel with memorable characters and a memorable storyline. Looking forward to the next chapter in the life of mister Calumny Spinks.

The author's website http://www.piersalexander.com
Follow him on twitter: @thebittertrade

Friday, 13 March 2015

Guest Post and Giveaway for Cosy Crime Series: Cherringham: A Lesson in Murder

Today I am part of the tour for the latest in the cosy crime series Cherringham: A Lesson in Murder and on my blog today I am thrilled to feature a Guest Post from the authors, Matthew Costello & Neil Richards on how the series began, together with a fabulous Giveaway!


And on the Eighth Day… The fictional village of Cherringham has grown faster than a gold-rush town since Matt and I invented it two years ago, sitting outside a Cotswolds pub in the autumn sunshine, sipping our pints of Marstons and making up stories. We were in the Cotswolds to research our new crime series about an ex-NYC cop Jack Brennan and local single mum Sarah Edwards who team up to solve all kinds of murder and mystery together. We wanted the series to be set in the very heart of the real Cotswolds, with all the variation of housing, class, industry, tourism, locals, that the area offers. But we also needed a village that had the Thames flowing through it - because Jack lives on an old Dutch barge. And we had a problem. We’d spent a week driving everywhere – but no single town or village fitted the bill. The perfect stretches of the Thames didn’t have quite the right village – and the perfect villages were miles away from the Thames. So we decided to invent our own Cotswolds town. What could be easier or more fun? We decided to use one village that we both loved for the core geography – then we took a couple of other villages and grafted them on. All we had to do then was pick up our favourite stretch of the Thames (complete with barges, medieval bridge and weir) and lay it in a delicate curve in the meadows below. And what writers could resist the opportunity to build a whole community from scratch? A market square and a set of medieval stocks? It shall be so! A charming little pub with a great landlord that not only does terrific food but always has a quiet table at the back whenever you need one? Voila! A police station with just one cop, who’s genial enough but no great shakes at solving murders? Put it there! Next step was to give our little village a name. At first it was going to have the suffix ‘on-Thames’ but then we decided to call the whole series ‘Murder on Thames’ so that had to change. For a while we ran with Sheringham, which has an evocative ‘olde Englande’ sound to it but our market research (wives and families) responded that everybody knew there already was a Sheringham in Norfolk… So then in a moment of genius (or to be more truthful a moment of sheer chance) we realized what Chippenham, Cheltenham, Chipping Norton, and Chipping Camden all had in common – and came up with the name Cherringham. And Cherringham worked so well – it actually became the title of the whole series. ‘Murder on Thames’ then became the title of the first book. But – back to creating our story world. Even then – right at the beginning – we also knew we’d have to map our village. If we didn’t – then as co-writers we’d quickly lose track. Matt lives in New York – I live in England – and we write our books across the Atlantic, across time zones: it was vital that we saw exactly the same geography, the same layout. Especially in a crime novel where sometimes the plot itself depends on the movement of characters across the landscape, the distances between homes and crime scenes, the relative location of suspects and victims… We knew our fictional Cherringham had to be laid down with as much logic as a town planner would apply when creating a new community from scratch. It started as a few scribbles on a pub napkin: “Here’s the High Street. And here’s where Sarah lives. So… down here must be the road that leads down to the river. And here’s Jack’s houseboat – half a mile north from the bridge? Which way does the river flow? Hmm – let’s put a loop in it... Sarah’s mum and dad – they have a place half a mile down-river. And let’s put a pub here on the crossroads. What shall we call it? The Ploughman’s. Oh and here’s Huffington’s – the coffee place – near the market square and the church. Here’s the primary school, and here’s…” And so on and so on… Until now our map of Cherringham is so big, so comprehensive, that it has to be drawn on a flip-chart sheet. We’ve created streets, businesses, chicken farms, studs, shops, stores, restaurants, farm shops, cafes, pubs, hotels, offices. We’ve set up Mothers and Toddlers Groups, a choir, a Cherringham Historical Society, the local drama group, an opera club, a whole church congregation, bell ringers. We’ve invented cops, solicitors, priests, electricians, plumbers, tyre-fitters, parish councillors, teachers, immigrant workers, kitchen porters, school pupils, cricketers, footballers, a tennis club, runners… And we know all their names and addresses and relationships (the secret ones too). Little did we know when we started that Cherringham would grow into a vibrant, functioning community. Now – two years later – we have just returned from another week staying in the Cotswolds to storyline the final episodes of Season Two. We stayed in the heart of a village which – secretly - is the heart of Cherringham. And all week long we kept catching each other out referring to the village as Cherringham – suggesting eating at the Ploughmans, or a meal at The Spotted Pig, or tea and scones at the Hobbit CafĂ©. Or wanting to bump into Tony Standish our friendly solicitor. Or Alan the cop. Or Sarah’s dad Michael. Or the Buckland sisters who run the toll bridge. Or Pete Bull the plumber… All of whom are so very real in our minds. But, sadly, are only fiction. The trouble with making up a fictional world is – you end up wanting to live there. And you really miss it when you’re away. Neil Richards Co-creator – with Matt Costello - of ‘Cherringham’


What a brilliant guest post! Thank you so much for this insight into the series beginnings.

I love this series and have read the first two books

If you love cosy mysteries, especially ones set in small english villages, then I would urge you to check out this series. They are not huge blockbusters, they're relatively short stories that you could devour in one sitting, packed full of fabulous characters, great plotlines, all in a wonderful setting.


Cherringham: A Lesson In Murder
Matthew Costello and Neil Richards

Nothing ever happens in the small Cotswold village of Cherringham, making it the perfect place to retire to – or so ex-NYPD Detective Jack Brennan thought. But before long, local web designer and single mother Sarah Edwards had convinced him to help her investigate a suspicious suicide. Since then, he and Sarah have solved mysterious deaths, unlikely accidents and perplexing robberies. “Peace and quiet” never really suited Jack anyway…

Cherringham is an ongoing “cosy crime” eBook series, that launched in December 2013 and features unlikely sleuthing duo Sarah and Jack. Released in monthly episode, it is written by award-winning game and TV writers UK-based Neil Richards and US-based Matthew Costello in a transatlantic collaboration – which mirrors that of Jack and Sarah. The new series, released from March, launches with A Lesson in Murder, in which the two are asked to investigate the violent death of a popular teacher at Cherringham Girls School.


Co-authors Neil Richards and Matthew Costello are known for their script work on major computer games. The Cherringham crime series is their first fictional transatlantic collaboration. Matthew has written and designed dozens of bestselling games including the critically acclaimed The 7th Guest, Doom 3, Rage and Pirates of the Caribbean. He is also the author of a number of successful novels, including Vacation (2011) and Beneath Still Waters (1989), which was made into a movie. Neil has worked as a producer and writer in TV and film, creating scripts for BBC, Disney, and Channel 4, and earning numerous Bafta nominations along the way. He’s also written script and story for over 20 video games including The Da Vinci Code and Starship Titanic, co-written with Douglas Adams, and consults around the world on digital storytelling.


1st Prize – Winner written into a Cherringham episode plus an ecopy of the book
2nd Prize – ecopy of the book

Saturday, 7 March 2015


My Thoughts on this novel of English and German families ..........


Publisher:  Allen & Unwin
Published:  2 April 2015

The wedding of Thomas, an idealistic German architect, and Irene, an English artist, brings together the Curtius and Benson families. But their peace is soon shattered by the outbreak of war in Europe. While Irene struggles to survive in a country where she is the enemy, her sister Sophia faces the war as a nurse on the Western Front. For their brother Mark, diplomatic service sees him moving between London, Washington and Copenhagen, all the while struggling to confront his own identity. Against a backdrop of war and its aftermath relationships are tested, sacrifices are made and Irene and her siblings strive to find their place in an evolving world.

I have very mixed feelings about this story which opens in 1910 at the wedding of Irene and Thomas.

I found it quite hard-going at times and struggled to read it, I didn't really care for any of the characters, except maybe Irene.  I thought they were all quite secretive, I didn't know what they were thinking for most of the story and I couldn't get to know them.

Their conversations consisted mainly of the war and politics, not surprising I suppose, but it did get boring at times and I wished they would talk of other topics.  Also, I don't know why the characters spoke so much in German without any English translation .... I found this very frustrating.

Though I did enjoy the storyline overall, it was interesting to see how Irene was treated during the war, living in Germany and unable to travel back to England.  And I enjoyed reading the descriptions of Berlin.

But I'm afraid that I wouldn't read any more of this author's other works, they are not for me, unfortunately.

My thanks to Real Readers for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


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